Sunday, August 14, 2016

Homemade Stick Plant Labels

As time goes along, I'm planting more and more trees, more clumps of veggies, more herbs. It's getting to the point that I can't remember exactly which clump is what. At my age, that's getting easy to do. Yup, my memory ain't what it used to be. Ok, time for labels. 

Trying to keep focused on being fairly self-reliant and having the homestead farm supply my basic materials, I decided to use lengths of saplings. I choose ohia and guava saplings since their wood tends to last pretty long out in the weather. 

Using a saw, I've cut sticks into approximately 2 foot lengths, with the ends on an angle. 

I then painted one end with a very bright yellow paint for viability. While I don't think it's absolutely necessary to do this, it sure makes it easier for me to see the stakes. 

Then it's a simple matter of using a permanent marker to label the stake. Perhaps I should have used paint instead of a marking pen, but time will tell. If the pen ink fades in the weather, then I'll switch to using a brush & paint. 

Once the permanent ink is dried for several minutes, I then spray (or brush) the printed end with some sealant, usually polyurethane. This seems to help keep the writing from fading quickly. Time will to if it keeps the ink from fading for a long time. 

I've only been using these stakes for a couple of months. So far, so good. But I'm keeping an eye on them for fading. With too many labels I've used in the past, the writing faded so badly that I could no longer read them after six months. Thus I don't know if this is the ultimate solution I'm looking for.......something cheap, highly visage, easy to read, long lasting (at least two years).

I've stopped using short labels and stakes. They get lost in the soil & litter, especially those 6" long commercial plastic ones. The plastic type get brittle with age and break into small pieces and any writing on them fades away. If something isn't a bright obvious color, such as yellow, it gets lost on me. I tried using aluminum labels, which were pretty nifty and classy looking, but I kept losing them from sight. I ran over a couple with the lawnmower. I should have spray painted them a bright color. I never replaced them with new because they were expensive. Plus I wanted to come up with something made from materials that the farm provided. 

I'm interested to see if these stakes are the answer I'm searching for. So far I'm having no problem seeing them. Haven't lost one yet. Nor have any faded so far. Nor rotted. Give it a year and see if I can still say that. 


  1. Very Akamai! The clear coat over the writing to seal it in is a good idea. And wood is kinder to mower blades than metal - I "found" some hidden markers in the long-hidden garden plots that the previous owner had apparently built. Nice ones, with copper bands on double wire posts about 9 inches long. Ruined. No boundary markers, no edging, just rampant plants (weeds) that overtook the soil. You made a cool marker! If you wanted a flat topped stake, you could use a belt sander or even a band saw to make a flat area on the stake close to the top.

  2. I use strips of metal from coke cans, where I engrave with a sharp object the text, and then I write over it with marker pen. My idea is that when the marker pen fades, the engraving is still there. Then I take a stick like yours, and put a slit into the top and slide the strip into it. I've notions of buying letter stamping sets to make it look more professional, given that I reuse these strips.

    I have a suspicion the odd one gets pull out by magpies, but it hasn't been a major problem. It's way better than the plastic and pencil or marker pen, both of which fade to nothing for me.

  3. I am going to try this. I have a bunch of apple limbs from my tree breaking under the huge crop of apples. Apple sood is very weather resistant. It will rot in the ground but if the stakes are long enough I can keep pushing them down as the tip rots.